Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Ways To Solve Their Road Woes
The Lakers have been two completely different teams so far this season when they are playing at home, as apposed to on the road.
They have one of the best home records in the NBA at 11-2. On the flip side, their road record is one of the worst in the NBA at only 4-10.
It is hard to imagine that a team with so much experience and a leader like Kobe Bryant could get raddled on the road, but they have been.
If the Lakers want to be a threat to win the championship when the playoffs come around, they are going to need to figure out how to compete just as hard on the road as they do at home.
Here are five things the Lakers need to do in order to solve their road woes.
1. Speed Up the Pace
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The Lakers are just not scoring enough points to win these road games. They are currently in the bottom third in the NBA in scoring on the road, averaging only 90.8 ppg.
I know they are old and slow, but they need to try and pick up the pace on offense a little bit if they want to win some of these games. They are only averaging 87.9 offensive possessions per game on the road, which is less than every other team in the league except the Pistons.
Adding a little more of a fast-break style of play to the Lakers game plan would catch opposing teams off guard and lead to more easy baskets for the team.
2. Better Utilize Pau Gasol
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It is rare to find a player who plays better on the road than at home, but that has been the case for Pau Gasol so far this season.
I don’t know why this is the case, but Gasol has definitely been looking for his shot more during road games than home games. At home, Gasol is only averaging 15.2 ppg, but has upped that to 18.4 ppg on the road.
Since Gasol has been shooting more on the road, he has also been going to the free-throw line more. Strangely, his free throw percentage is dramatically better on the road. He’s shooting 86 percent from the line on the road and only 71 percent at home.
Pau has also been much more aggressive on the boards during road games, averaging over 11 rebounds per game on the road and under 10 per game at home.
The Lakers should look to get him going early during road games since he has been so successful so far this season.
3. Use the Bench More
Coach Brown needs to rest his stars during road games more if he wants them to have fresh legs when the playoffs roll around.
During road games, Bryant is playing 40.8 mpg, Gasol 38.0 mpg and Bynum 35.8 mpg. All three players average less minutes than that during home games and the Lakers have been more successful during these games because of it.
I know these are his three best players, but Brown really needs to do a better job of getting his bench involved in the game. Since no one coming off the bench really sees consistent action, it is hard for anyone to develop a rhythm and really help the team on a nightly basis.
4. Play Better Team Defense
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The Lakers defense has just been atrocious on the road this season.
On average, they are letting up 11.2 more points per game on the road than they are at home. This statistic completely baffles me. How can a team play such good defense at home that they are top five in the league in points allowed, but at the same time be in the bottom half of the league in the same category for road games?
The Lakers are going to struggle playing on the road all season if they aren’t more efficient on defense. They are currently letting up an average of 107.9 points per 100 possessions, which is just too many for a team with two dominant big men down low and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Kobe Bryant.
5. Kobe Needs to Shoot Less
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I know you probably think I’m crazy for saying the league leader in scoring needs to shoot less in order for his team to be more successful, but it’s true. Since the Lakers have been struggling and falling behind in most road games, Kobe has been forcing up a lot bad shots.
Bryant is averaging more points per game at home than he is on the road, even though he takes more shots and plays more minutes on the road. At home, his field goal percentage is a respectable 47 percent, but as a result of his bad shot selection on the road, he’s only shooting 42 percent away from the Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant is one of the smartest basketball players in the league, but he is letting his emotions get the best of him this season. Unless he changes up his shot selection and stops taking such wild shots when his team’s down, Kobe’s excessive shooting will do more harm than good and will result in more losses than wins for the Lakers.